how to find your niche market | parker moore
Parker Moore | Tux on Trux
Hannah: Hello everyone and welcome back to DWGTV. I’m Hannah and today I’m joined by Parker Moore, who is the CEO and co-founder of Tux on Trux. Today we’re really going to be talking about how to find your niche market and how identifying a pain point in your industry and really coming up with the unique solution for that can give your business a serious competitive advantage. Without further adieu, we’ll get into it. Thanks for being here, Parker.
For those who might be unfamiliar, what is Tux on Trux?
Parker: Well Tux on Trux, just as the name suggests is a mobile tuxedo rental service that primarily serves high school proms, college formals and occasionally at a wedding here or there. What makes us most unique is that we’re actually going to the customer at their facility. For high schools, for example, we’re going to set-up in that school. We partner with the school and we kind of make prom, for this case, even more of a school event and having all the touchpoints with our customers is actually at the school. That’s kind of the business model. We have the idea behind what we’re doing and we’ve been at it for about four years now.
Hannah: How did you come up with this idea?
Parker: I experienced the pain-point and the issue of this industry. Tuxedos haven’t changed in hundreds of years, and the industry really hasn’t changed much either. In high school, I was getting ready for prom and I went to a small town, large high school, and I had to drive about 30 minutes into the next biggest city to find a men’s warehouse. After you’re making three trips back and forth to the store you’re basically spending about two hours, and I realized I didn’t even wear the tuxedo for two hours. I spent way too much money on this tuxedo. I thought, “Why can’t we have a tuxedo rental company come to the school and fit us?” Just like we have class rings and school pictures and all of these school events take place in the building. The idea hit me, the name hit me all at once. Even the slogan of all things. I didn’t do anything with this until college, and I went to The University of South Carolina, where I had a class where you had to create a little business. I was the lazy junior college student and I thought, “Well why I don’t just recycle this old business idea that I had in high school, and use it as this class project?”
It all kind of started by accident. I did the class project, and I had a professor encourage us to pitch it at an entrepreneurship competition. It did pretty well at that and it caught some local press here and we actually had our first client before we even had a supplier. So, they were like, “We’ll have you at our high school.” Did you go to our high school?
Parker: So, they were like, “Let’s just have you on board,” and we were like, “Well we gotta go find suppliers first.” So, it all kind of started by accident from this idea I had in high school.
Hannah: What was the process like for bringing this idea to life? I know you said you pitched it and came up with the idea in your class. What events unfolded to bring this to life?
Parker: Well, when we first pitched it, it was the same kind of concept but a different avenue to get to that goal. We kind of envisioned a company to literally be a truck, like this massive 18-wheeler, and it would show up at this school and all fittings and deliveries would take place out of this truck. Very high upfront costs. But we realized that one, we don’t have the money and two, we don’t really want to spend a month or two pitching around for money for some concept that is definitely unique. So we decided that we should just ask the school if we can come in the door. What we learned is not only are they letting us come in the school, they’re actually helping us promote the company and do a lot of the marketing for us. At the high school level, you have to reach the kid, who is the user and the parent who of course is the buyer. These are very different people. It’s tough to get home to mom and dad without the school’s help. So we’ve been fortunate to have the school’s buy-in on that.
It kind of started with just that one high school and then word of mouth spread and spread and we kind of adapted our business model to meet the need of every school. Today we’ve morphed into this online presence where we can also use self-fitting algorithm tools that we have where some guy can find us in Texas and he can order from us and we can ship that out to him. Where in the past it was like we needed to see you in person. It’s changed a little bit over the three and a half or four years we’ve been doing this. It’s changed for the better I think. But you’ve got to be willing to adapt and grow in that way.
Hannah: What sets Tux on Trux apart from competitors like those big box stores like Men’s Warehouse, for example?
Parker: Well it’s fascinating, this industry. I didn’t come into it with any sort of fashion background or anything like that, clearly. But I kind of studied a little bit early on and I saw a lot of these big box stores are actually closing down, and they’re going more towards online. But what makes us sort of better is obviously from a business standpoint, we have very low costs. We don’t have to keep the lights on, we’re not going to train all these people, property taxes, you can name the list. On top of that, really the big selling point for us is sure convenience. Especially that high school crowd, where the parents are very much involved in finding that tuxedo for Jimmy.
But the college crowd, they see the convenience in a whole different light. Some of them are renting three or four times a spring. Because they’re going to their formal, their dates formal, their formal’s formal, so they see it as convenient as well for just how many times they’re renting every year. Once we have their sizes it’s just a one-click order for them, and it just shows right up at their fraternity house or their dorm room.
Convenience I’d say is the short answer to that question and certainly price. We’re about $35-40 dollars cheaper compared to the exact same tux you’re going to find at Men’s Warehouse, for example.
Hannah: For a college student that’s huge.
Parker: Huge. And by the way, Men’s Warehouse owns about everybody else. JoS. A. Bank, David’s Bridal, they’re the same crew and so they are all in the same boat where they’ve taken on a lot of upfront costs in all these stores and now they’re starting to see some store closures and a little bit more of a drift toward online sales. Hopefully, we’re on the right path for that.
Hannah: Sounds like it. What kind of response have you heard from your customers? And what’s making them choose Tux on Truxs over those big box stores?
Parker: A little bit of that convenience. There’s this kind of cool aspect to it as well. We’re also battling with this tradition of when you think tuxedo rental you picture yourself in a store. For years and years, that’s just how we did it. For example, we just did a fraternity here at USC about two weeks ago and we fit the entire fraternity at the fraternity house. And that was a cool experience for them because they’re at the fraternity house literally all the time and now they’re able to swing by on a Monday night from 6-8 pm and it takes two seconds to get fitted and we’re back there before formal unloading the tuxedos and people can pick them up. So it was extremely convenient and was done in a place they’re familiar with. Then they’re starting to see the process and they go, “Well I’ve got a formal in two weeks, can I just keep this tux?” And we’re like, “No, we’ll do it better. We’ll give you a fresh one in two weeks.”
It’s just this new tradition and once we have a customer who uses, they will use us again, whether it’s for another formal or for prom to formal. I’ve had that happen too. We’ve had high school students go to college and ask us if we’re at the College of Charleston. “Yeah, we are.” And then they’re going to be in someone’s wedding, or if not their own wedding. And so there’s this new tradition we’re trying to set with how people think about getting ready for a formal event.
Hannah: And you’re really just building that lifetime value with your users. With your customers and it sounds like with your business model you just really know your personas and know what their pain points are, what they’re looking for, that convenience matters to them. It’s a more personalized experience. You’re providing the service to them in a place where they’re already comfortable. That’s awesome.
Parker: And weddings are a little different crowd. We haven’t talked too much about them but with weddings its more of a case by case basis, obviously. And smaller groups, of course, eight-nine people tops, in some cases. From the wedding side of this, we are really going the extra mile to make sure it’s a really personal experience. Whether we’re doing fittings at the bachelor party or just at someone’s house. It’s really cool.
Hannah: How has online marketing played into your success?
Parker: In the first couple seasons of this it’s been a very shoestring budget. We threw very little money at some Facebook ads and that’s about as fancy as we got. And we saw some okay returns from that, but we really weren’t experts in that. This season that we’re in now we have done a whole lot more research with who exactly is our customer, where are they living online, where can we best reach them at certain times of the day, that’s huge. So we’ve been able to spend more money on this. We’ve seen some incredible returns already, I know it’s early in the year, but I’ve been very impressed with Google Analytics and Google Ad Word space. What key phrases, what keywords are the most searched. Oddly it’s ‘tux’. I didn’t think that ‘tux’ would hit that much. I thought ‘tuxedo rentals’ or something. But just three letters, ‘tux’, has incredible results. So learning things like that in the digital space. I studied a little bit of that in college, as you know, but I never had to put it into practice until this season. I think it will be fun at the end of this season to see how successful were we on the digital front. It’s new for us this season, but as of now, it’s pleasantly surprising at how well it’s working.
Hannah: Keyword research is huge and it’s something that you’re continually learning and working on. I’m really excited to see what kind of results y’all get from digging into that some more.
Parker: I think one of the best things our company for us is the name. Tux on Trux, even the spelling of Trux is a little unique there, but sometimes that uniqueness helps because once people see the logo they remember it. There’s no really questioning what this company does. So we don’t have to tell our story very often, it’s just kind of an immediate hitch you over the head. And that works really well with Instagram videos and stuff like that.
Hannah: You touched on this in the beginning but can you kind of touch on how this business has evolved from its beginning. Where you started us to where you are now?
Parker: It has changed a bit. To give you some specifics we’ve had a really tough time, in the beginning, finding a supplier. A lot of suppliers in this industry are very old school and they want to make sure you have a retail store. And they’re like, “Well no sir, we’re not going to give an account to you if you’re everywhere.” They just couldn’t buy into the vision. We found one supplier who will work with us in some ways. And then we found that we’re doing so well that we’re actually hurting their other accounts, who do have retail stores. It’s like, “Well sir, we can’t go to Clemson because we’ve got accounts there that we’re also servicing and we’re afraid you might upset them.” I’m like well that’s kind of their problem. If the customer is choosing us, that’s a sign that the retail store is not working. The supplier shouldn’t care because they’re getting business regardless.
Over the past three years or so we’ve had to really study the supply chain side of this and make sure that our partners on that side of the business, which is the business, can really A, buy into our grand vision of this, which is more of a franchise model years from now and then B, have the scalability and the warehouse and the shipping logistics straightened out to where we can drop ship a tux to anybody’s front door in the country within two days. And I’ll pay extra if we have to get it there in a day. We’ve got that right partner, we just signed that agreement at the beginning of this year and that’s something that we had to really change the mindset of and adjust how we operate a little bit there.
On top, I’m very excited to announce that we’re partnering with Jostens, which is really the exact business model we try to mimic, but just for the tuxedo industry. To have Jostens onboard with us in the South Carolina area, over 50 something high schools that were going to be working with them in that name recognition, that familiarity to the parents, which is the key there. The parents used Jostens when they were in high school and so having that name brand associated with us is everything. To me at least.
We’ve just been more mindful this season than years passed of what do we want to be like and how do we get very close to that? And whether they’re in our space or not. For example, prom is such a huge industry in it of itself. Tuxedos are just the beginning. Limousine rentals, florists, photographers, you can pull a lot of these people in and say, “Hey I’ve got this entire high school looking at my tuxedo catalog. Why don’t we offer your photography session with this tuxedo for a package deal of $219?” We’re seeing other industry players come into this as well and that’s pretty exciting.
Hannah: And it’s just overall streamlining that process for your user. That’s very smart.
Parker: We want to make it a one-stop-shop experience, and that kind of a new tradition. Year after year, just like Jostens you expect them to show up and do class rings every spring. You expect there to be a yearbook; you don’t even think twice about it. But those are outside vendors coming into your school and that’s what we want to be too.
Hannah: What’s next for your business? I know you have the partnership with Jostens. What is your vision moving forward?
Parker: Well, short term we want to make sure that we’re hitting a great number of the schools this year but also establishing great relationships in those schools so we’re there next year. For the first time this season we’re able to all the tuxedos hopefully for the College of Charleston and their graduation because they wear white dinner jackets for that, so that’s huge. That’s on the front end of the calendar. But I think long term our goal for this is to really do a franchise model where we really kill it in one geographic area and then build this bible of how to run tux on truxs, sell it some guy in Jacksonville and say, “Hey you can do this in Florida. And you can do this in Chapel Hill. And here’s how it works in Texas.” So, we’re going to sell these Tux on Trux opportunities across the country, is the ultimate goal and I think that is where we’ll see a big impact and hopefully a complete change of the tuxedo industry and bringing it more to the schools, and in person.
Hannah: And it all started with just an idea and a class during college.
Parker: Yeah, it’s all an idea during college and now I’m here, and it feels kind of crazy. I was very shy in high school, very shy in college, believe it or not, so I never thought I would stand up in front of people and pitch an idea. So, it is kind of strange.
Hannah: It’s crazy how what you think you’re going to do when you’re in high school or college kind of evolves. I’m sure you never anticipated being in this kind of industry.
Parker: No never.
Hannah: What advice would you give to someone who has a business idea but doesn’t know really where to start? Clearly, you’ve been really successful with nailing down, “Okay this is my audience’s pain point. This is this unique solution that we can come up with that streamlines this experience for them.” If someone has an idea for a business, how can they implement best practices of what you’ve learned to bring their idea to life?
Parker: I think for every person it’s a little different. Of course, the business idea should be different. But I try to get out and speak to some classes at USC. I’m doing that later today actually. I find the saddest thing I hear is that people had business ideas, but they’re too shy to talk about it, or what’s worse, I’ll find people who don’t want to talk about it. I kind of look back at myself and am like, “I was like that at one point.” I had this really cool idea in my own head and I was too afraid to tell you about it because you might steal it. And I’m like well you gotta get out there and talk about it. Even if you like coworking spaces like this, it’s very important. And early on with this idea and other random ideas, that was kind of my mindset. It was like, “Let’s just keep everything to myself.” But you’re not going to be able to grow. You’re not going to be able to learn what’s best for the customer. You’re not going to be able to make those adaptive changes about your business model and how to structure it. You can’t be too married to the company. You have to love the idea of the company, and what you want to, but the actual steps of how to actually get that done, if you’re stuck in your ways, it’s not going to work. I see that too often with people who have business ideas that are too afraid or they’re just rebellious of sharing the idea and that’s tragic. I guess that’s my advice is chat. Talk. And put yourself in situations to give the opportunities. We’ve certainly had doors open just because I handed somebody a business card. An Uber driver literally handing him a business card and now I’ve got a wedding in May. You never know.
Hannah: Where can people go to find more information about Tux on Truxs and learn more about y’all?
Parker: Sure. tuxsontruxs.com is our website. Join us for this incredible season that we’re doing and you can rent a tux on the website if you need one.
Hannah: Awesome. For whatever life event you have. Well, thanks so much for joining us today. This was a great conversation. I hope y’all found value in this. I know I really enjoyed chatting with Parker today. If you enjoyed this, please like and share this video and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. We’re on all the platforms, so give us a like, give us a follow and connect with us there so you can find out when we’ll be going live next and other updates of that nature.
And speaking of when we’ll be going live next, we’ll be back on April 16th at 1 pm eastern time to talk with Casey Banks. She’s the director of communications at 1000 Feathers, and we’re going to be talking about understanding your digital footprint. That’s going to be a good one, be sure to mark your calendars for that and with that being said that’s about all we have for you today. Thanks again, Parker and we’ll see y’all next time. Bye.
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